Goizueta Fellows: In Their Own Words

Throughout the 2016-2017 academic year the Cuban Heritage Collection is welcoming ten emerging scholars into the Goizueta Foundation Graduate Fellowships Program. We are proud to introduce each of our 2016-2017 Goizueta Fellows throughout the course of the program.
Our fifth fellow of the series, Vida Owusu-Boateng, will discuss her work in a CHC Research Colloquium on Monday, August 15, 3 p.m., at CHC’s Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion. All are welcome to attend this presentation.

About Vida Owusu-Boateng


Goizueta Fellow Vida Owusu-Boateng is pursuing her Ph.D. in comparative literature at Louisiana State University.

Vida Owusu-Boateng is a second year Ph.D. student at Louisiana State University concentrating in comparative literature.

What university/program are you from?

The Comparative Literature Program at Louisiana State University

What are you working on?

My research focuses on the reception of ancient Greek tragedy in Africa and the African diaspora, specifically in Cuba and South Africa. As part of my preliminary research for my dissertation prospectus, I focus on the dramatic and critical outputs of two Cuban playwrights: Virgilio Piñera’s Electra Garrigó (1941) and José Triana’s Medea en el Espejo (1960), and their performance history in Cuba, Miami, and the Caribbean world. These works are important for exploring the political, historical, and cultural situation of Cuba and the Caribbean at large. Piñera’s experimental drama, Electra Garrigó, is one of the earliest receptions of ancient tragedy in the Caribbean as a whole and it is widely regarded as marking the beginning of Cuba’s theatrical modernism and the avant-garde and absurdist theater in the Caribbean. These authors cubanize and revolutionize Greek tragedy and its reception in both Cuba and the Cuban diaspora by situating these Greek myths in a Cuban imaginary to interrogate present political, cultural, historical, and social issues. By cubanizing these myths, Triana and Piñera establish a connection between the oral traditions of ancient Greece and the hybrid transculturation and diasporic nature of Cuban culture and society.
I am particularly interested in the historical and cultural context that influenced these artists and playwrights and their artistic choices towards these ancient works. Specifically, my research focuses on how the plays by Piñera and Triana have created an economics of cultural exchange, of loss and gain of identity, negotiated over a considerable period of time between Cuba, Africa and the West. These Cuban examples offer a valuable insight into the potential of —and especially the limits of—Classical dramas to address fraught political and social realities in the modern world.

What do you expect to find at CHC?

During my visit to the Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC), I hope to consult a wide array of materials about the literary and artistic scene in Cuba and other Cuban diaspora locales from the 1940s through the 1970s, an era that envelopes the development of Cuba’s modernist theater. Miami and other Cuban diasporic locales represent important Cuban diasporic locations where plays will be staged regularly with numerous alterations to interrogate issues of exile, identity, race, homeland, and nation. Studying these works will open up important insights and counterpoints to the construction of Cuban identities through time and space in and beyond Cuba and thus broaden the reception history of these works.

How can we learn more about your research?

I will be talking about my project in a CHC Research Colloquium* on August 15, 3 p.m., at the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion. Additionally this study will culminate in a monograph and hopefully I will publish some of my findings as articles in research journals.

*Colloquia are free and open to the public. Contact us at chc@miami.edu for more information.